Posted Monday, June 16, 2003
E-commerce can save time and money in many ways. Records can be managed more easily using appropriate computer programs; the need for paper can be reduced, and the amount of physical storage space can be minimized.
A well designed e-commerce website acts as a Sales Consultant, Customer Service officer and shopfront 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although it will not replace all of your staff, it can supplement them or even replace the need to hire more people.
Communications can be managed more effectively using electronic means, whether networking within an office, or external communications via the internet, fax or other electronic means.
Success is primarily dependent upon matching appropriate electronic techniques with the right business needs. You need to see e-commerce solutions as tools which can be selected and used when they are needed. Not every business will benefit from using the internet, or electronic banking, but many will. Different businesses will utilize certain techniques in different ways.
For example, some largely populated cities can order take-away food or groceries over the internet to be delivered to their door. Less populated areas may benefit from e-zines (online magazines), on-line training or international specialty shops where the local community would not be able to sustain these businesses operating directly out of their local business district.
As with any task in this world: you need to choose your solution to match the need. Sometimes an e-commerce solution is appropriate. Sometimes it is not.
DON’T BE SCARED OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology scares some people.
Even if the boss is not scared, sometimes employees can have resistance or a negative attitude towards using an e-commerce solution. Their attitude might not be obvious to the manager; but any resistance or lack of ability to deal with e-commerce can impact on the success of e-commerce in that business.
LACK OF ABILITY
Staff need to be trained.
Information Technology (including the internet) requires continuous training.
All staff need to be kept up to date with these changes –even after original training.
WHEN THE INTERNET DOES NOT WORK FOR YOU
For a site to work it needs the following:
1. To Function Properly
* What is on the site needs to be accessible to the widest range of people using the net.
* They need to be able to access all parts of the site quickly and easily.
* The information on the site needs to be user friendly (i.e.. easy to comprehend and use, fast loading pages, etc).
* The site needs to have an easy to understand and use interface; although fancy graphical buttons and obscure interfaces may look artistic, it may confuse and frustrate potential customers.
2. To Offer things that other Sites do Not
The internet user has such a huge range of sites to choose from : they’re unlikely to visit a site that does not appear to offer something unique; and they are unlikely to stay on a site that is not meeting or exceeding their expectations.
3. Have a Solid Foundation
The person or business behind the site must be able to deliver what they are promoting on the internet. If you don’t provide good and reliable service, you will not get repeat business.
Statistics show that it is MUCH harder to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one.
4. The Site must be Visible (i.e.. able to be found).
Getting an internet address is similar to buying a post office box –you won’t get mail unless you let people know what your address is.
Creating a web site is like printing leaflets –the product can look good, but they need to be seen by people before they will do you any good.
An internet site needs to be promoted, and promotion needs to be maintained, if the sites visibility on the internet is to be maintained.
People come to internet sites through a huge range of ways and means.
- Many will find you on the internet (e.g.. from a link on another site, by searching a subject on a search engine or perhaps listed in a directory or other type of listing).
- Some will see your Url (i.e.. web site address) printed on an advertisement or brochure.
- Some people may be referred to your site; others may read about your site in an article somewhere.
You can increase your visibility by many different means, including:
- Submitting the site for listing on a directory, ffa (Free For All list) or Directory
- Sending press releases to newspapers, magazines, radio, TV etc.
- Printing and displaying posters in appropriate places (e.g.. internet caf¡õ; computer shops or bulletin boards).
- Directly approaching owners of other sites, and offering to swap links (i.e.. they give you a link on their site, in exchange for you giving them a link on yours.
- Using specialist ‘submission’ software programs to analyse your website and it’s placement in search engines.. giving suggestions for changes to maximize your listing potential
- Pay a directory services (such as Yahoo or Lycos) to review and list your website in their directory under the appropriate categories (This used to be a free service but due to changes in methods of income on the Internet since the year 2000, many search engines are now charging for this service)